October 2012

  • Ask the Expert: Africa Center’s Dr. Assis Malaquias Discusses Angola’s New $5 Billion Oil Fund

    Dr. MalaquiasAngola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, announced in October 2012 the creation of Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSA), a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund designed to ease the impact of commodity price volatility that spawned a massive liquidity crisis in the country in late 2009 and prompted Angolan authorities to seek a $1.4 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    According to Angolan authorities, the Fund will use some of the country's oil proceeds to generate wealth for future generations. But the three-member board set up to manage the fund is already raising some eyebrows.

    Dr. Assis Malaquias, Academic Chair for Defense Economics at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and author of numerous books and articles on Angola’s economy and politics, shares his thoughts in an interview with ACSS staff writer Serge Yondou.

    Q: On October 17, 2012, Angola launched a $5 Billion sovereign wealth fund to invest in domestic and overseas assets. Could you explain what this type of fund is and how it works?

    DR. MALAQUIAS: A sovereign wealth fund is an investment fund owned by a sovereign state. Such funds invest a state’s excess funds – often derived from the sale of natural resources – globally as a way to achieve specific economic, social, political, security, or symbolic objectives. Sovereign wealth funds are ideal for countries that are dependent on the export of natural resources like oil due to the volatility of the markets for such resources. Often, when the prices for such resources on the international markets experience significant declines, countries are faced with severe liquidity challenges. A sovereign fund sets aside some of the country’s earnings as a hedge against price fluctuations. It can also serve as a way to set aside a percentage of the wealth earned from the exploration of a country’s finite natural resources for future generations.

    Q: The Angolan sovereign fund will be headed by Armando Manuel, economic advisor to President José Eduardo dos Santos. But, José Filomeno dos Santos, one of the president’s sons, will also sit on the board. This second appointment raises questions about the transparency of the fund’s management team. What do you think?

    DR. MALAQUIAS: The Angolan government is not known for the transparent management of the country’s resources. In fact, it is widely considered to be one of the most corrupt governments in the world. President dos Santos and his family are regularly accused of having misappropriated billions of dollars in oil revenues for their private enrichment and that of a small ruling elite. The appointment of the president’s son to the new sovereign funds’ management team will definitely further substantiate the view that the dos Santos family has every intention to continue controlling Angola’s wealth.

    Q: The World Bank estimated Angola’s GDP at $101 billion in 2011. It is also set to grow between 8 and 10 percent in 2012, thanks to higher oil prices and increased production. However, the country still faces high poverty rates and blatant social inequality. Can the new fund help lift Angolans out of poverty?

    Angola Oil
    DR. MALAQUIAS: Yes, it can help, but only if it is managed with this objective – lifting Angolans out of poverty – as the main goal. But the past record of the Angolan government does not offer reasons for optimism. Since attaining independence in 1975, the Angolan government has squandered just about every opportunity to manage the national wealth for the benefit of the average citizen. Instead, the national wealth has been used to enrich a very small group of individuals who have political or family connections with the President. Most Angolans live in poverty. What Angola needs, more than a sovereign wealth fund, is a set of policies that provide equal opportunities for all Angolans to have opportunities to improve their lives in all spheres of productive activities. Concurrently, Angola must also put in place mechanisms that prevent public funds from being captured by individuals and used for private ends. Those funds could then be used to expand/support both public and private investments to generate well-paid employment opportunities for all.

    Q: Angola has been a major oil producer in Africa for decades, and President dos Santos has been in power since 1979. Why create the sovereign wealth fund now? How do you explain that?

    DR. MALAQUIAS: The Angolan government understands that oil – its main source of revenue – is a finite resource. Sooner or later, there will be no more oil. The government will then be faced with two basic dilemmas: the first is economic – how to prevent economic collapse if the economy is not sufficiently diversified by the time oil runs out; the second is profoundly political – how to maintain political stability when the majority of the population’s aspirations for a better life cannot be fulfilled because the government no longer has access to revenues derived from oil. Setting up a sovereign wealth fund is a way to preempt both scenarios. The question is whether the government has sufficient time to address both the economic and the political dilemmas before it is too late.

    Q: More broadly, is the sovereign wealth fund the best way for oil-producing African countries to diversify their oil-dependent economies?

    DR. MALAQUIAS: No. The best way for oil producing African countries to diversify their economies is to manage their resources in efficient, transparent, and accountable ways for the public good. Oil monies must be invested in education, health care, infrastructure, food production, and all the other sectors that enable a country to develop in sustainable ways. This must be accompanied and supported by policies that support economic growth and overall development. It is the role of government to do this. A government cannot devolve its responsibilities to a sovereign wealth fund, however rich or well managed that fund may be. The role of the sovereign wealth fund is not to do the job of a government. It is simply a tool for a government to use excess funds either to save/invest for future generations or for a time of real need.

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  • Vulnerable, Volatile Youth May Threaten Somalia’s Fragile Stability; Radicalization Felt Across Africa

    Dadaab Refugee Camp-SmlBy J.R. Warner, Africa Center Staff Writer   Over the past year, sustained military offensives by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force and the Somali government may have dealt a devastating blow to al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group that had controlled much of southern Somalia since late 2008. Recent elections that brought educator and activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to power have even ushered in hope that Somalia, long-considered the world’s most failed state, might finally be on the path to peace. However, until the country finds a way to integrate and empower a generation of Somalis that has known only conflict, experts warn Somalia will remain fertile ground for youth recruitment and radicalization by terrorist and criminal organizations.   Young Somalis remain especially vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion, with severely limited access to education and employment. “The few who are being educated today may attend institutions that indoctrinate them into Islamic fundamentalism,” says the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Meanwhile, Somalia’s youth unemployment rate is an astounding 67 percent. Somali youth also play a role in perpetuating the country’s decades-long crisis. “Youth are major actors in the conflict, constituting the bulk of the participants in militias and criminal gangs, including al-Shabaab,” says the UNDP 2012 Somalia Human Development Report. “Lost opportunities, unclear identity and a growing sense of marginalization among youth in an environment of state collapse, violent conflict and economic decline provide fertile ground for youth radicalization.” SuspectedShabaabMembersCapturedinSomaliCapitalAl-Shabaab’s recruiters seize on this vulnerability, targeting youth from 12 to 22 years old. According to reporters from the region, many are forced into al-Shabaab’s ranks or indoctrinated at an early age. Others are lured by promises of money, firearms and phones with al-Shabaab recruiting young jobless Muslims in Somalia and northeastern Kenya. According to one study, al-Shabaab recruits could expect $50 to $150 per month. But experts insist that the quest for financial gain is neither the only consideration nor the primary factor rendering unemployed youth vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. For disaffected and jobless young people in search of avenues for influence in society, self-affirmation and recognition by their peers, joining an extremist group or criminal organization can be an attractive and empowering option. “There may be some youths who join violent extremist organizations ‘just for the money,’ but they must be a very small number,” says Dr. Benjamin P. Nickels, Assistant Professor of Transnational Threats and Counter-Terrorism at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). “Even in those cases, there is always more going on—if only because the money itself means more than just purchasing power; it means status, access, authority, and so on.” Revenge is another motivation. For young Somalis resentful of alleged abuses by Somali’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) or foreign forces and AMISOM troops supporting the TFG, joining al-Shabaab could be a path to vengeance. For example, a Human Rights Watch report on war crimes in Somalia noted widespread accusations of human rights abuses by al-Shabaab, including public beheadings and flogging, but the report added that populations in areas controlled by the TFG its allies also have been subjected to human rights violations, including “arbitrary arrest and detention, restrictions on free speech and assembly, and indiscriminate attacks harming civilians.” “Al-Shabaab’s future depends on its ability to find new members,” participants at an Africa Center Workshop on Preventing Youth Radicalization in East Africa warned in January 2012. “The group is searching for young recruits in many places, including among East Africa’s Somali diaspora communities and non-Somali youth.”   Indeed, a July 2011 UN investigation found that al-Shabaab maintained extensive funding, recruitment and training networks in neighboring Kenya, prompting Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia and a crackdown on suspected al-Shabaab supporters in the country’s northeastern coastal region.     But despite some important successes, Kenya’s military campaign in Somalia and its crackdown at home have often instilled resentment amongst young Muslims living in the country, providing ammunition to extremists bent on recruiting and radicalizing Kenyan youth.   Riots broke out in late August 2012 after word spread that Aboud Rogo, a Kenyan Muslim cleric accused by Kenyan and U.S. authorities of supporting al-Shabaab, had been shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in Mombasa. Kenyan authorities insisted that the violence—which lasted nearly a week and left at least five dead—was incited by a radical cleric close to Rogo, a claim denied by many of the Mombasa’s young Muslim residents. “Incited? I don't need to be incited to riot when I have eyes to see my sheikh has been killed by the government,” one 25-year-old Rogo-supporter, Otieno Ramadhan, said in an interview with Reuters. Although it remains unclear whether the violence was organized by extremists or represented spontaneous outrage, it appeared that beneath the anger about the assassination lies resentment amongst many young Kenyan Muslims about marginalization. “We youth from the coast don’t have anything to show, no jobs—yet other people get employed daily at the port,” Ramadhan told Reuters. “All they have brought us here is drugs to kill us slowly. I will riot. They can shoot us dead if they wish.”   Young and Restive   The plight of Somali youth may be particularly severe, but it is certainly not unique. Across the continent, youth vulnerability and exclusion are the norm, not the exception—and there are mounting concerns about the radicalization and recruitment of youth by terrorist and criminal organizations.     Colossal youth unemployment rates provide a glimpse into the extent of the problem. With 200 million people between 15- and 24-years-old, Africa has the world’s youngest population. According to the African Economic Outlook, youth unemployment rates are twice as high as adult unemployment in most of Africa—60 percent of Africa’s unemployed are young people. Worse, the continent’s youth population continues to swell, and African economies are not creating enough jobs to keep pace.   The African Development Bank has highlighted the correlation between high rates of youth unemployment and escalating crime and violence. “When young men and women fail to find productive, decent livelihoods, they can become socially excluded and enter a cycle of poverty, often leading to crime, violence, and drug trafficking,” the African Development Bank said in a 2011 report. “Failure to create sufficient job opportunities to match the increase in the working age population may result in rising unemployment, potentially increased crime rates and political instability.” Criminals, terrorists, and repressive governments alike recruit and radicalize unsuspecting young people. According to Human Rights Watch, “militant groups find ready recruits in the vast cadre of Nigeria’s unemployed youth.”  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon raised concerns in January 2012 about recruitment of unemployed youth by terrorists and criminals in Libya. In Zimbabwe, state-sponsored “youth militias” have been widely cited as perpetrators of human rights violations during bouts of violence following elections in 2003 and 2008. The list goes on. Youth unemployment has even caused concern in Africa’s most vibrant democracies. One 2011 study concluded that youth unemployment is a “major catalyst of instability” in Ghana.  Another report described youth unemployment as a “ticking time bomb” in terms of socioeconomic and political stability in South Africa. The situation is even worse in fragile and conflict-affected states. In a 2011World Bank survey conducted in six countries and territories affected by violence, nearly half of respondents cited youth unemployment as the primary factor motivating young people to join criminal gangs or rebel movements. Not all youth unrest should be considered criminal. It was largely unemployed young people who sparked the uprisings that ousted authoritarian regimes in North Africa—and many see sub-Saharan Africa’s youthful population, too, as a potential catalyst for positive political change. “Africa’s youthful and better educated population is restive for more transparency from public officials and expanded livelihood opportunities,” noted a November 2011 ACSS Special Report. “These youth are increasingly aware of governance norms elsewhere in the world and yearn for the same basic rights in their societies.” Africa’s youth also have shown the potential to be a potent economic force. Not only are they key drivers of growth through participation in the labor force, they are at the forefront of innovation and the proliferation of information and communications technology.   A 2009 landmark study on youth vulnerability and exclusion in West Africa by the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) found that “Youth exclusion and vulnerability do not lead to violent outcomes where mediating institutions channel youth energies into collaborative and productive activities.”  Unfortunately, such mediating institutions are lacking in many parts of Africa and an environment of exclusion prevails. “Traditional structural impediments continue to limit the participation of youth in politics, inhibit their representation in local and national decision-making processes, and encourage their resort to unorthodox means of influence, including political violence, rebellion and thuggery,” the CSDG study found. Young entrepreneurs also face major obstacles to securing start-up finance because they lack credit history and collateral. This is especially true in the informal economy, where many governments are taking steps to limit business activities because the informal economies often are unregulated, yield little tax revenue, and enable criminal activities. But, according to the World Bank, youth are more likely than adults to work in the informal sector, so such crackdowns disproportionately affect young people.     A Wake-up Call?   Historically, African governments’ approaches to youth empowerment have been poorly resourced and met with little success. “Current state-led youth programmes are supply driven, unresponsive and short lived, and do not target, leverage or upscale the successful and durable initiatives of the private and voluntary sectors,” notes the 2009 CSDG report. According to Kate Almquist Knopf, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development and an Adjunct Fellow at ACSS, African government agencies with the responsibility for youth empowerment often lack the resources necessary to fulfill their mandate. “In Africa, Youth Ministries often have the longest name but the smallest budget,” says Knopf, referring to the fact that these ministries often are responsible for youth, sports and culture. Knopf insists that youth-centric programming should not be confined to a single ministry but rather integrated into the mandates of a wide range of government departments. But the role of youth in the Arab Spring uprisings as well as a wave of youth protests across the continent has captured African leaders’ attention. At a July 2011 African Union Summit, African leaders committed themselves to creating quality employment opportunities for young people. More recently, the October 2012 International Economic Forum on Africa—a high-level summit on economic development issues—focused on promoting youth employment. Elsewhere, governments have launched highly-publicized initiatives aimed at motivating and recognizing young entrepreneurs. Whether or not these high-profile discussions will translate to sustained commitment remains uncertain—and experts stress that empowering Africa’s youth must involve more than just creating jobs.   “It is not simply about money—subsidizing young people without providing them meaningful work and giving them a stake in society is a recipe for trouble,” says the Africa Center’s Professor Nickels. “Responses need to address marginalization and its varied manifestations.” While no single institution is fully equipped to tackle the challenges of youth empowerment and counter-radicalization, a myriad of civil society organizations across the continent are dedicated to empowering Africa’s most vulnerable young people through education, job training, and mentorship. Sanejo, a Rwandan non-governmental organization, supports communities transiting from war to peace or facing abject poverty by promoting education. A USAID-funded program called Shaqodoon—Somali for “job seeker”—provides thousands of young Somalis with training for market-driven employment opportunities. The Mombasa-based Kenya Community Support Centre (KECOSCE) even runs a program aimed at building “a stronger more resilient youth community committed to rejecting radicalization.”   “Civil society organizations form a first line of defense against violent extremist organizations,” noted participants in the January 2012 ACSS Workshop on Preventing Youth Radicalization. “The challenge for governments is to create space for and, when possible, to encourage the myriad interactions that occur between civil society groups and East African youth.” Still, governments appear to have a crucial role to play—especially in fragile or conflict affected states. In the case of Somalia, for example, the UNDP urges authorities to remove policy and institutional barriers that perpetuate the exclusion and marginalization of youth. But the UNDP also stresses that youth are not merely an obstacle to peace; they can be a powerful, positive force in the country’s transition. “The potential of youth as positive agents of change and key actors in peace and development is barely recognized and rarely cultivated, even though youth around the world on many occasions have demonstrated their ability to act as peacebuilders and social and economic actors,” notes the report. “Engaging youth in peacebuilding efforts can help address their feelings of fear, isolation, hopelessness and stigmatization, and in turn, contributes to the overall security of the community.”
  • Security Sector Reform in West Africa Topic of ACSS Workshop in Senegal

    Security Sector Reform Walking in DiscussionView Photos of the Event

    DAKAR, Senegal – Security professionals from nine West African nations plus the United States and Europe gathered in the Senegalese capital of Dakar beginning October 15, 2012, to discuss the critical issue of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in a workshop co-sponsored by the Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies and the U.S. Embassy in Dakar.

    Speakers during the workshops opening days included U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea Bissau Lewis Lukens; Senegalese Minister of the Armed Forces Augustin Tine; and Academic Dean of the Africa Center Dr. Monde Muyangwa.

    The workshop, scheduled to run through October 19, brought together senior-level civilian security and military officers from across Western Africa, international experts, and European and U.S. government officials to focus on practical steps and measures to achieve meaningful SSR and to allow stability and human protection to become the norm in the region. Approximately 46 participants from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the United States were taking part in the event.

    Security-Sector-Reform-Group-Photo-2012Participants were drawn from the military, the police, the gendarmerie, and relevant government departments handling security and defense issues. Members of leading organizations from inside and outside the region, academics and international experts, and government officials from the United States were been invited. Dr. Monde Muyangwa hosted the opening.

    Dr. Monde Muyangwa, the ACSS Academic Dean, began her remarks by noting the high ranking and distinguished participants engaging in this very important discussion.

    “We have a huge task ahead of us this week,” Muyangwa said, “but I have no doubt that with the wealth of experience that is represented by the 46 participants that are here, we will achieve our goal -- which is to find a better way of improving and delivering security to the citizens of West Africa.”

    Lukens, the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, told the participants the  workshop will give them the opportunity to discuss current security challenges in participating nations while also giving security sector professionals the opportunity to develop possible solutions.

    Dean Speaking“This [workshop] is significant,” Lukens said.  “It shows the strength and solidarity of our partnership here and demonstrates an increased awareness by the United States, by Senegal, and by other governments in partners in the region that security is a priority for you.”  (Click here for Amb. Lukens’ remarks)

    In his opening remarks, Minister of the Armed Forces Augustin Tine touched upon the need for African governments to reform their security sectors in order to achieve professional security institutions that meet the needs of citizens, society and state.

    “Reform is necessary because our armed forces must adapt to the socio-economic realities of our countries and to new forms of threats,” Tine said. “This reform is also necessitated by the requirement of pooling forces to respond effectively and in a coordinated fashion to threats that challenge our sub-region.  We now have the dual challenge of building a powerful defense system in line with our human resources and our budgetary resources.” (Click here for Minister Tine’s remarks)

    The SSR workshop in Dakar was designed to provide security-sector professionals with the opportunity to analyze the security challenges facing West Africa, the reasons underpinning insecurity in the region, and to review the efficacy of current efforts to enhance safety measures for citizens.

    The workshop schedule included plenary sessions and discussion group sessions involving experienced African, U.S., and international facilitators from academic institutions, policy-focused organizations, and government agencies.

     

  • Amb. Battle, U.S. Ambassador to African Union, Keynote Address at ACSS International Workshop in Addis Ababa

    Michael_A_Battle_US_ambassador02Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to address this very distinguished group gathered here in Addis Ababa, the diplomatic capital of the African continent. I express my appreciation to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies International Alumni Chapter for coordinating this event, and providing the opportunity for thorough discussions on many of the pertinent security issues presently facing the African continent. 

    As U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, I am very familiar with the vast amount of work and attention the issues of peace and security, good governance and development and investment require. The AU is fortunate to have such a group of experts assembled to assist with creating solutions to these challenges.

    I extend thanks to our presenters and panelists of academics, diplomats, and policy makers whose expertise and enlightening presentations allow for frank and informative discussions on topics of great importance to the AU and its partners, as we make note of the AU’s progress and address the challenges that still lie ahead.

    Moreover, I would like to thank Col. Bradley Anderson for personally extending me the invitation to deliver the keynote address at today’s event.  He has been a valued colleague to both the U.S. Mission to the African Union and the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa.

    On June 14, 2012, President Obama released his Presidential Policy Directive (PPD), entitled U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. In this directive President Obama stated, that “as we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and our work requires addressing the opportunities and challenges in Africa with a comprehensive U.S. policy that is proactive, forward-looking, and that balances our long-term interests with near-term imperatives.”

    Of the four strategic objectives or “pillars” outlined in President Obama’s Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa, advancing peace and security stands at the forefront. The U.S. believes that an environment of peace, security and stability are necessary conditions for democratic governance, sustained economic growth, trade and investment, and human development.  The United States has committed itself to assisting the AU and African countries.

    In its official response to the PPD, The African Union Commission affirmed that on the peace and security front, the U.S. and other partners have been a supportive force in complementing AU efforts toward attaining peace and stability through support for the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture.  Workshops and conferences, such as this ACSS-sponsored one today, allow experts, academics, and strategists the opportunity to assist the AU in furthering its important work.

    The United States, through USAU, has dedicated significant resources to supporting the AU’s peace and security programs. 

    We have advanced peace and security by playing an integral role in the birth of South Sudan, supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia, and working with regional partners to counter the predatory Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Working with our African partners we will strengthen the capacity of the AU to promote resiliency as well as try to mitigate and prevent future crises where we can.

    Over the last three and a half years, the United States has worked with the African Union to see post conflict transitions in Niger, Guinea (Conakry), Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. We are still engaging the African Union and the regional organizations with the struggles in Madagascar, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

    Africa Center for Strategic Studies International Alumni Chapter  ( not photo of the event)
    Africa Center for Strategic Studies International Alumni Chapter ( not photo of the event)

    We have witnessed Ethiopia and Kenya deal more successfully with drought and averting famine. It is important to note that issues surrounding drought and famine have peace and security implications. Whenever there is a scarcity of resources or the lack of effective management of resources there is an increase in the type tension that produces disruptions in peace and security. It is also the case that where there is a disruption in peace and security there is an increase in the probability of scarcity. Ethiopia and Kenya are to be applauded for the pre-planning and resource management that allowed these two nations to endure drought and avoid famine.

    In terms of governance, we have witnessed the peaceful peace time transitions of government in Malawi, Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. It is significant to note that for the first time in over 80 years Ethiopia has experienced a peaceful, constitutionally directed transition of power resulting in new leadership. We have celebrated with the African Union, the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance. This Charter illustrates Africa’s dedication to universal democratic values and principles and calls for AU Member States to commit themselves to the transparent and accountable management of public resources, respect for human rights, and the creation of an independent and impartial political culture that supports free and fair elections. Working with the African Union in multilateral diplomacy to get the Charter ratified was more effective and efficient than trying to broker 54 separate agreements on democracy, elections and governance.

    Working with the African Union and the international community we are seeking to create a context for the mitigation of conflict and the promotion of lasting peace between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan and South Sudan have made encouraging progress on agreements on oil production that should improve the futures of both nations. We are hopeful that agreements on borders, humanitarian access and all of the elements in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will be fully implemented.

    It should be noted that the work done by the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council on Sudan and South Sudan has signaled a renewed positive relationship of cooperation and collaboration that recognizes the global role of the UN and the complementarity of the role of regional organizations like the AU in assuring global and regional peace and security.

    Our long term support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is beginning to produce positive results. Somalia is closer to realizing its hope for stability and development than it has been for over twenty years. This is due in part to the AU-led mission, AMISOM, and the close collaboration of international partners. It is imperative to note that the AU led the way to try and create a context that provided space for the new emerging political reality of an elected parliament and an elected President of Somalia. The AU went where others dared not go. The AU led where others did not lead. And the AU deserves the credit and the recognition for its sustained efforts, shared with its international partners.

    While much work remains to be done to end the reign of terror by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the AU has been collaborating with regional and international partners in trying to bring an end to the threat of the LRA. There are many other areas of the continent where the AU has provided and continues to provide leadership, demonstrating a willingness to work with regional and international partners.

    The United States looks to the African Union, founded in 2002 with the expressed purpose of promoting peace, security, stability and development on the continent, as a respected voice that seeks to build consensus on African issues. In this context, the United States and the African Union engage in substantive and honest dialogue about encouraging open, transparent, accountable democratic societies that foster and protect human and civil rights across the continent.

    Other areas of interest to both the United States and the African Union include climate change, food security, the development of opportunities for youth and women, the reduction and elimination of trafficking in persons and drug trafficking.

    Recognizing that African youth engagement is essential to peace, security, development and governance on the continent, President Obama in 2010 held his first African Youth Forum in Washington. The U.S. Mission to the African Union has supported the African Union in its efforts to engage, empower and develop young Africans. The U.S. Mission to the African Union and the African Union have exchanged youth interns through the AU Youth Volunteer Corps and the U.S. Peace Corps. The United States is the first non-African nation to employ a member of the African Youth Corps in a diplomatic mission.

    At the January 2012 Summit, AU Heads of State endorsed the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and called for a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017. This Free Trade Area would increase intra-regional trade across the continent, allowing Member States to diversify their economies. In addition, the African Union is moving forward with its Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa and its Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, which will open up the medium- and high-technology segments of global manufacturing that will drive dynamism and rapid growth in African economies. The combined impact of these initiatives will help unleash the human capital of Africa and move the continent forward toward a more prosperous and secure future.

    The U.S. strategic objectives outlined in the PPD are very consistent with AU efforts to spur economic growth by promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment. Contrary to the unfounded yet far too widely held belief that investments on the African Continent do not yield profits, the reality is that the return on investments on the African Continent is very competitive. In the past decade, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world—Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda—are African nations.

    In May 2012, I met with President Kikwete of Tanzania and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah at the Grow Africa Conference on the margin of the World Economic Forum in a preparatory meeting for the U.S. hosting of the G8. The focus was on how G8 partnership with African nations and the African private sector can create the kind of transformation of African-led agriculture and related agricultural infrastructural development that will be able to lift 50 million people from poverty. What will make this effort work is that seven African Nations—Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania—are taking the lead working with the African Union, the World Food Program, the G8, the World Economic Forum and other international partners in the public and private sectors in Africa and abroad.

    In an effort to broadly disseminate President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive, the United States Mission to the African Union provided separate comprehensive briefings to the African Union Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioner for Peace and Security. USAU also provided briefing summaries on the PPD to all of the AU Commissioners, the AU Chief of Staff, and AU Legal Counsel.

     In an unprecedented move the African Union, in July 2012, wrote a comprehensive four page response to President Obama acknowledging appreciation for the U.S. Strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa. The African Union’s response states:

     “We are grateful and acknowledge the recently launched US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa by your Administration in June 2012…. The US has continued to engage Africa on many fronts from peace and security; trade and investment; health; food security to infrastructure development. Your strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa signals to us an interest in addressing our high expectations and renews confidence in a relationship that is increasingly building on partnership and mutual interest…..We are delighted that the US Strategy goes hand in glove with our African priorities.”

     The fact that the United States strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Union priorities clearly align, is evidence of our articulated mutual interests and the significance of the African Union to the United States’ strategic objectives.

     Source: U.S. Mission to the African Union
  • General Henry Odillo of the Republic of Malawi visits ACSS

    General Henry Odillo of the Republic of Malawi

    Defence Force Commander of the Republic of Malawi, General Henry Odillo, and his delegation visited ACSS on September 20, 2012. View Photos of this Event.

  • Benin Chapter Convenes Symposium to Discuss Maritime, Environmental Security Issues

    TOPSBeninPhoto

    View Photos of this Event

    COTONOU, Benin — The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) worked with the ACSS Community Chapter in Benin (AB-CESA) to convene a Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS) symposium on September 26 that examined maritime safety and security as well as environment and security issues. Held in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and Benin’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the event was attended by nearly 100 participants, including ACSS community members, current and former officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of the Interior, and officials from the U.S. Embassies in Cotonou and Accra, as well as civil society and academia.

    Speaking at the event, Captain Denis Hounsou Gbessemehlan, Benin's Chief of Navy Staff, stressed the long-recognized need to enhance cooperation on maritime safety and security, noting that Benin and Nigeria launched a joint sea patrol operation in September 2011 in an effort to combat the surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

    “Our country has been at the forefront of international mobilization on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea,” noted Pamphile Goutondji, the Permanent Secretary in Benin’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “These joint efforts have enabled the development of a national strategy document on maritime security, safety, and protection that is in the process of being adopted by the Government.”

    The symposium also highlighted the links between environmental degradation and security. “The concept of security has evolved over time,” Ambassador Rogatien Biaou, former Foreign Minister of Benin, told symposium participants. “It is now accepted that environmental factors have an impact on conflicts and levels of stability and peace.”

    “Experience shows that environmental degradation and resource depletion are causes of tension in many parts of the world," Ambassador Michael Raynor, the U.S. Ambassador to Benin, said during the symposium. "Problems related to the environment can threaten the livelihood of the people and enhance the social and economic inequalities.”

    Representing the Africa Center was Mr. Gerald Lefler, Regional Program Manager for the Regional Office West Africa, based in Senegal. Facilitating academic discussion was Dr. Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center. The discussion portion of the symposium took place under the Africa Center’s strict policy of non-attribution to allow an open exchange of ideas.

    Based in Washington, D.C., the Africa Center uses its Topical Outreach Program Series to maintain face-to-face relationships with ACSS community members and security stakeholders throughout Africa. Under TOPS, a small academic outreach team travels to more than a dozen nations each year. These programs are designed to increase the quality and quantity of communications and networking among ACSS alumni, ACSS and U.S. stakeholders and policymakers.